Saturday, September 29, 2012


September disappeared as if it was caught up in a whirlwind. Each day brought new challenges as Rebekah, Leanna, and mom adjusted to the new rhythm of our school week.

For Leanna, perhaps the biggest challenge was waking up! It is a very early day and somehow she manages to roll out of bed, throw on her uniform, and get in the car. She is unable to eat so early in the morning, and has had daily stomachaches and when she gets to the school she has experienced nausea and vomiting. The teachers believe it is nerves and eventually will resolve itself.

Otherwise Leanna seems to be happy, making new friends and learning many new things. She seems eager to learn German, which I thought would only confuse her with so many languages to master, but the young mind can absorb it. I like the fact that she is learning to become more organized and pay more attention to detail. In our home school it was easy for me to let some things slide as often it takes outside pressure and tests to teach us accountability and the consequences of being forgetful, careless, etc.

Rebekah has spent most of her evenings doing homework, from almost the minute she walks in the door til bedtime. I am hoping that as the school year progresses she will be able to get things done in less time. She is a perfectionist and is very conscientious. The school puts a lot of emphasis on writing, so many of her subjects require thoughtful essay answers and for the classes she takes in Spanish it forces her to learn a lot of new vocabulary and pay careful attention to Spanish grammatical rules.

She also has two Science classes, Biology and Chemistry/Physics. Usually in home school we would only teach one concentration per year, such as one year of Biology, then another year would be Chemistry, etc. Fortunately her science classes are in English which helps.

Finally, the transition and adjustment for mom has been somewhat stressful as my role as teacher/school administrator has changed to more of a support person. I get up early each morning and take the girls to school, and then when they come home I am there to offer assistance with homework. Doug also takes an active role in the same. We have attended the parent teacher meetings, and the staff seems very helpful in making sure our children adapt smoothly.

The biggest loss for us is the control we lose over the content of the curriculum. We miss the Bible centered education we were able to use in our home school. It is also difficult to lose control over our schedule. Home school allowed us the freedom to have the girls get their school work finished during the day, so afternoons and evenings were used to pursue other interests such as music, sewing, arts and crafts, and ministry.

It also makes me appreciate the United States and other countries where they have allowed home school as a legal option for parents who are concerned about the best interests of their children. We don't realize how dear freedom is until you lose it. I am hoping that Spain will eventually make a provision for home school, and there are groups working toward that end.

Friday, September 7, 2012

School Days

Yesterday was Leanna's first day of school, and her first day at what I call a "traditional" school. After being home schooled their entire life, we enrolled the girls in a bilingual English/Spanish school here in the Canary Islands. Leanna was a little nervous at first, but she did fine and made friends quickly.

The starting of school is so nostalgic. I recall those first days of September, the cooler air coming with the promise of Fall right around the corner. I loved wearing my new outfits and saddle oxford shoes. Each year my mom would take us to JC Penney for school shoes--all six of us children. We each got one pair of every day "school" shoes, and one pair of gym shoes. I felt sorry one year for my parents as we checked out--spending what seemed like a small fortune just on shoes--and back then it was quite a bit of money. My mom always said September was one of the slowest times in the flower shop because all the parents were broke from buying school clothes and supplies.

My mom would sometimes fry us cheeseburgers for breakfast--she realized the importance of a high protein breakfast and knew we would feel better eating that than something sweet, like pop tarts or donuts. To this day some of my siblings still order a cheeseburger when they go out for breakfast.
We had to catch the school bus, and our house set back from the road quite a long way so we couldn't see the bus coming from the house. My worse fear would be to miss the bus, knowing my dad wouldn't be too happy to have to run us up to the school. My brothers learned that they could sleep a little longer if they wore their school clothes to bed--all they had to do in the morning was wake up, brush their hair,  and run out the door. My mom was thrilled when a line of clothing came out called "Garanimals" because they came prematched--all  you had to do is match the same animal figure that was on the tag of the shirt and pants--so no need to worry if your kids clothes coordinated. Today I doubt it would be much of a problem anyway--it seems to be the style not to match anymore.

Entering the school there was a distinct aroma of the school cafeteria. Back then they still hired cooks and they made most of the food. Some menus were more popular than others. Usually spaghetti came with peanut butter sandwiches on cheap white bread that stuck to the roof of your mouth (that was before they worried about food allergies.) The canned spinach made my stomach turn and made the whole school smell--did anyone actually eat that slimy stuff?  Pizza day was the favorite (usually Friday), even though it was just a little cheap frozen, cardboard pizza. Everyone loved the no bake cookies.

It will be interesting someday to hear what memories my own children have of their school and home school experiences.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Being Thankful

The other day I was talking to our son via skype about his mission work in Mozambique. He was telling me about taking some of his church members to a government hospital in Maputo to visit another member's child who was sick with a bad case of malaria.

The scene he described was heartbreaking: two children per hospital bed, all in a room with other sick children-- sharing the infectious germs. Children were crying in pain from malaria, lacking the necessary medicines to treat it. Nathan said that the hospitals were known as "death traps" because once you go in you probably won't make it out alive. In order to receive care you must "pay" the health care workers a little something (in other words--bribe) and even that is no guarantee. It really isn't a place you would want to go if you were sick, but these people have no other option.

The image he described has stuck in my mind--I can visualize a small child in pain--and wish there was something I could do to help these people. There are probably so many people in this same condition that it becomes overwhelming. It really makes you thankful for what we have.

It convicted me as I recall sighing to myself the other day about "having to go grocery shopping again." Can you imagine?  I have a refrigerator and freezer full of food.....plenty to eat, and I grow weary of shopping? I imagine there are many in other parts of the world who would long to have the money to buy the food we so often take for granted.

I don't live in fear of my children getting malaria, or that the water we drink will make us sick. I do recall when we lived in Mexico what that was like. A Mexican friend of ours had a baby born with spina bifida and swelling of the brain, and what would have been treated immediately in the United States was left untreated, causing her head to swell to the size of a large watermelon, and now she has irreversible brain damage and paralysis--all because of the lack of resources.

May we all learn to be thankful, and do what we can to help alleviate someone else in need.